Dr. Heuckeroth investigates mechanisms controlling bowel motility in order to find new ways to treat, diagnose, and prevent intestinal motility disorders. He works to define genetic, biochemical, and cellular processes that impact bowel function, with a special interest in the enteric nervous system and intestinal smooth muscle cells.
Dr. Akizu's research focuses on cerebellar ataxias and motoneuron disorders, with the specific goals of uncovering the particularities of these neuronal types, understanding disease mechanisms, and exploring treatment options.
Dr. Grinspan's research program focuses on oligodendrocytes, cells of the central nervous system that synthesize the myelin sheath required for transmission of nervous impulses. Her research seeks to understand the signaling pathways that regulate oligodendrocyte maturation and how they are perturbed in diseases such as multiple sclerosis, HIV, and perinatal white matter injury.
Dr. Eisch is a neuroscientist interested in how molecular, cellular, and circuit changes—particularly in the limbic system—influence motivated behavior and cognition. She is specifically interested in how neuroplasticity in the hippocampal dentate gyrus contributes to both normal and pathological function with relevance to depression and addiction.
Christoph Seiler, PhD, received a Foerderer Fund for Excellence award at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 2015 to study this mechanism. German-born Dr. Seiler pointed out that “Foerderer,” in German, means supporter or sponsor. Its name is therefore apt, because the internal award program spurs research projects that need a bit of support to generate pilot data that can later help those projects stand out in the competitive awarding of external funds.
Stem cells have the unique ability to develop, or differentiate, into other kinds of cells in the body. Researchers have now manipulated human stem cells so that they produce the types of brain cells that play important roles in neurodevelopmental disorders such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, and autism.